Seems like slowly it is dawning on Washington that Iraq is 'again a lost cause'. Sadly Barack Obama is not the President who can undertake anything like David Petraeus's 'surge'. Neither does Barack Obama have 'that mandate' nor there are any cheap choices available. In anycase 'surge' was not cheap. George Bush had to order additional American soldiers to the tune of 20,000 and finally he had to accept the presidency with 18% approval rating. (Agreed Great Recession played role in writing off Bush presidency along with Katrina, but the lion's share was his Iraq War.) Barack Obama does not intend to immolate his presidency like that, at least till now. Meanwhile one just has to look at Jeb Bush's advisers - as if he has made the point that he picks up all those we contributed enormously to George Bush's disastrous Iraq War policy. It is not just mess of Jeb Bush's answer about Iraq war - there are far too many people in Washington who are deeply vested in continuing faulty Iraq Policy of George Bush.
Washington Post Editor Fred Hiatt is one such charlatan. He backed Bush's Iraq War from get go and for years opted for defending it using all sorts of intellectual contortions.
Americans might not have seen the 'sham' called Bill Kristol, another big time proponent of Bush's Iraq War; but at least Fred Hiatt is finally seeming to reconcile the ill fate of Iraq. Needless to say, in that he blames Barack Obama for not undertaking second coming of another 'surge'. (Yah, our Commander-in-chief is searching for another 'infidel' commander to lead that project since David Petraeus has set the bar high there.)
May be Obama allowed Maliki to stick around very easily. But it is doubtful Obama had any choice. The failure of today's Iraq is squarely with Iraqi's as Ash Carter said point blank. Sins of Malaki Government are too much to overcome right now.
It is given that Obama Administration will continue to treat Iraqi situation as a radioactive matter, to stay away as far as possible. Focus on IS is appropriate for Obama Administration. It will be for the next administration to undertake any kind of policy change about Iraq unless deterioration warrants immediate intervention. But looking at today's American voters, it is doubtful if the next President is going to get any different 'mandate'; mandate for any adventurous policy. Hillary might seem to pursue a hawkish policy; but she will be lot more 'checked' by the resurgent Left within Democratic Party. For a Republican President - it will be all right to keep making noise about Obama Foreign Policy; but again it will be all 'talk' and no 'show'. The reason will be simple - today's America would rather prefer America the Global Cop going after FIFA instead of pouring thousands of Americans & Billions in the endless pit called Iraq.
- defeat of IS,
- either overthrow of Assad or some different stable arrangement in Syria,
- inclusion of Iran in the larger world community after the nuke accord,
- more freedom to Kurdistan and
- enhanced understanding / co-operation among Sunni Arab States;
these are all conditions to produce the lasting peace in Iraq. Second American surge does not figure in this list.
Whether Iraqi map stays same or not is not the most important question. Question is whether peace in larger Mesopotamia comes or not. Only when ground situation develops along the lines mentioned above, we would have a chance of peace in the area what we call Iraq today.